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California Still Trashing Workers’ Rights

Tuesday November 28th, 2017   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 9:44am PST   •  

The California Supreme Court has ruled that the state can impose a contract on employers, in the style of Don Corleone, a deal they can’t refuse. News stories hailed the unanimous ruling as a victory for “farmworkers” but it isn’t. The case deals with Gerawan Farming, a fruit grower in Fresno and Madera counties. A full 99 percent of their employees never voted for representation by the United Farm Workers union and many of the workers were not even born 1990 when the UFW contended to represent them. The UFW then disappeared from the scene but Gerawan still payed the highest wages in California agriculture.

Some 20 years later, the UFW had plunged to about 5,000 members, about the same number of workers Gerawan employs. The UFW demanded that Gerawan workers pay 3 percent of their wages to the union or lose their jobs. In 2013, the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board, all political appointees, oversaw an election. The Board then impounded the ballots, set aside the election and imposed a contract. “Nothing in today’s opinion prevents the employees’ ballots from being counted,” Gerawan said in a statement. “We believe that coerced contracts are constitutionally at odds with free choice.” Gerawan will appeal to the U.S. Supreme court but some realities are already evident.

The ALRB’s refusal to release the workers’ ballots from 2013 should come as no surprise in a state that refuses to release voter data to a federal probe of election fraud. Boards of political appointees imposing contracts is more akin to the Soviet collective farm system than a free agricultural and labor market. Only 16 percent of California workers are union members, so unions do not represent “labor” in any meaningful sense. Millennials may not be aware that United Farm Worker icons Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta derided migrant workers as “wetbacks” and “illegals” and deployed union goons to attack them.

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November 2017